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5S - How to Set everything in place

5S – a set of lean processes that optimise efficiency by focusing on organisation. For the last two months, we have looked over what 5S can do for your business, and the first S – Sort. Today, we're considering the next S that provides a rule for organisation and structure, and that is Set.



Set – or Set in Order, as it is often referred to – differentiates itself from Sort by integrating a system of management. Sort looks at minimising or removing wasted space or items. Set looks at the organisation of your workspace and makes the difference for you with efficiency and a lean workplace. It's as simple as knowing where your small cardboard boxes or postal tubes are, instead of digging through a sea of mess.

A workplace that is Set in Order is an easy workplace to navigate. Everyone either clearly knows or can clearly find any tool, safety vest or packaging tape they need. Even in an office environment, Set configures a workplace to exemplify clear direction. Lesser-used items find themselves out of the way but are nevertheless easily retrieved. Frequently used items are always easily spotted.

But why the big fuss about Set? Efficiency. Just like each of our 5S processes, Set delivers on leaning out your business; things are put away, and everything has a place. Offices aren't excluded here – everyone will know where the workplace stapler is, and where it is returned to.


3 Easy steps to Set

Step 1: Order your items. Sort should have already helped with this; recognise which tools, materials or equipment are most used and order them against the least used.

Step 2: Map your workplace – even better if you make a physical map! Drawing a map that includes the most often used walkways can give a great visual understanding of problem areas in your workplace.

Ideally, all your equipment and packaging supplies should be easy to retrieve, but that's just not always the case. Sometimes, the only good place for bubble wrap is tucked away.


Step 3: Label your environment. Placing labels on cupboards and shelves is not only good for navigation, but it also shows where things should be returned. Everyone knows where things go, and where things are. If everything is in place, then everything has a place.


The Trap

It all seems obvious that things should have a place and because of that, Set is often overlooked. Don't fall into that trap – Set done well is the fundamental difference between your business and a competitor. Don't ignore Set because your business has already done it – make Set a priority. Revaluate your workplace, take a walk around, and even if it's just one thing that can be done better, Set it in place.

Make sure to keep this in mind every time you get new warehouse supplies or equipment, or if there is a change in processes. Perhaps that one infrequently used item is getting used more often? Then it would be time to update its placement. Next month, we will look more into this, and how to Shine the hard work you've put in.


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